Balanced Lobos Shine At Record-Setting NCAA Championships
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/23/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 23, 2009

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NCAA Cross Country Championships Central

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The University of New Mexico men and women put the exclamation point on the greatest cross country season in school history with a pair of outstanding performances today at the NCAA Championship. The 12th-ranked New Mexico men tied for eighth (350 points) to earn their best NCAA finish in program history, while the No. 25 Lobo women stunned the field with a 13th place finish (368) - their best since running 11th out of 13 teams in the inaugural NCAA Women's Championship in 1981.

New Mexico, which swept Mountain West Conference titles for the first time three weeks ago, established itself as one of the premier all-around distance programs in the country. The Lobos recorded the fourth-best score among the 18 schools that qualified both their men's and women's squads to the NCAA meet. UNM finished ahead of several historic powers in the combined standings, including Stanford (sixth), Colorado (seventh), Minnesota (ninth), and BYU (14th).

Led by its five senior scorers, the Lobo men's team set the tone in the opening race of the day under sunny skies and relatively warm temperatures at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course.

Jacob Kirwa capped a sensational season by earning All-America honors with an 11th place finish - third-highest in UNM history. Kirwa, the MWC individual champion, ran a deliberate, controlled race, moving through the pack steadily throughout the 10K course and finishing with a career-best time of 29:46.1. He became the second Lobo to earn All-America honors since 2007 (Jeremy Johnson - 20th) and eighth All-American in men's program history.

Rory Fraser got out off the line quickly and was running with the leaders early in the nationally televised race before settling in and finishing 63rd with a time of 30:35.2 - virtually identical to his time at last week's Mountain Regional in Albuquerque.

Chris Barnicle stumbled down the final stretch, but held on to finish a career-best 108th (31:01.4). Barnicle, who transferred to UNM from Arkansas in January, was the lone Lobo with previous NCAA Cross Country experience (108th in 2007).

2009 NCAA mile champion Lee Emanuel was next, crossing the finish line 115th (31:04.8) in one of his finest cross country races. David Bishop capped the scoring in 142nd (31:19.1), while freshman Ross Millington was 150th (31:23.2) and junior transfer Keith Gerrard was 161st (31:27.5). The scoring five were separated by 1:33.

Postrace Interview With Lee Emanuel (Flotrack.org)

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

New Mexico notched its fourth top-15 finish in school history and finished among the top-10 for the second time (ninth in 2004).

Liberty junior Sam Chelanga smashed the course record with a time of 28:41.3 in a surprisingly easy victory. Chelanga, the 2008 runner-up, led from start to finish, and cross the line nearly 26 seconds ahead of Northern Arizona's David McNeill, who won the Mountain Regional title in Albuquerque on Nov. 14.

Oklahoma State edged defending national champion Oregon, 127-143, for the surprise team title, while top-ranked Stanford was a distant 10th (354). New Mexico's MWC rival BYU was 17th (468).

Later in the women's race, New Mexico once again used a dominant phalanx of scoring runners to quietly turn in its finest NCAA Championship performance. With all eyes on overwhelming favorite Jenny Barringer and Colorado's shocking collapse, the UNM women stayed together and worked their way through the field of 255 runners.

Junior transfer Ruth Senior capped her fantastic debut season, leading the team for the sixth time with a 46th place finish. Senior clocked the fastest 6K ever run by a UNM woman at the NCAA meet, crossing the line in 20:50.9 en route to the best finish by a Lobo since 1988.

Senior Nicky Archer was just 15 seconds back of Senior, finishing 68th (21:05.7). Archer joined Carole Roybal as the only Lobos with two top-70 finishes at the NCAA meet.

Sophomore Lacey Oeding turned in one of the best races of her career, meanwhile, crossing the line just five seconds behind Archer in 79th (21:10.1) - 61 spots better than her NCAA debut last fall.

Junior transfer Delyth James was 126th (21:28.2), just ahead of senior teammate Carolyn Boosey, who capped the scoring in 135th (21:32.9) - 17 ahead of her 2008 finish. New Mexico's scoring five were separated by a mere 43 seconds as all five recorded their fastest 6K times of the season.

Senior Ashley Gibson gutted through a serious illness to finish 191st (21:59.9) while junior Vanessa Ortiz was 228th (22:32.9) in her NCAA debut to round out the Lobo seven.

New Mexico recorded its third top-15 finish at the NCAA Championships and has notched back-to-back top-20 finishes (18th in 2008). The Lobos defeated 12 higher ranked teams, including five top-15 squads.

Villanova cruised to the team title, 86-133, over runner-up Florida State, while defending champion and top-ranked Washington was third (133). Fourth place Texas Tech (191) was the top team from the Mountain Region, followed by New Mexico and 19th place BYU (453).

Sixth-ranked Colorado finished 20th (458) after Barringer, a 2008 Olympian and American record holder in the 3,000 steeplechase, suddenly fell apart approximately 3,000 meters into the race. After leading as expected, she suddenly began to fade dramatically and at one point collapsed to the ground before gathering herself and finishing 163rd (21:46.9) as the Buffaloes No. 5 runner.

Combined Men's & Women's Team Standings
1. Oregon (419)
2. Villanova (445)
3. Washington (658)
4. NEW MEXICO (718)
5. Florida State (745)
6. Stanford (762)
7. Colorado (773)
8. Virginia (799)
9. Minnesota (803)
10. Providence (831)
11. Syracuse (855)
12. Iowa State (876)
13. Duke (877)
14. BYU (921)
15. Georgetown (980)
16. Arizona State (992)
17. Ohio State (1,156)
18. Michigan State (1,255)